OBSERVATIONS: World of Westgate 200
Expect the unexpected. It’s the motto you normally hear while making your way through the city of Las Vegas, but right now could also describe the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs. Two races in, and the brackets for most people are probably busted.
For the second time this year, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway put on a thrilling race for the trucks, with passing throughout including battles that took us four-wide, at once five-wide. There was always a battle to watch, with everyone under a blanket for a top-10 at one point due to how much the trucks punch a hole in the air. It’s easy to see why some fans call the lowest of the three premiere series the one with the best competition.
As the battles broke out at the front of the field at the end, Grant Enfinger sliced and diced his way through the field with four Goodyear tires to the front, making a three-wide pass to take the top spot. He then held off the field in three ensuing late-race restarts to score the victory.
The victory is the shot in the arm that ThorSport Racing also needed. The focus most of the year has been on GMS Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports, but Friday night saw ThorSport place all four trucks in the top-six positions.
When the playoffs began, Justin Haley and Enfinger were two of the competitors most picked to possibly fail to make it to the next round based solely on performance. With wins in the first two races, though, they have locked themselves into the Round of 6 heading into Talladega Superspeedway.
On the flip side, teams that have been surging to the front and stealing the headlines are struggling.
Brett Moffitt was leading in the late stages, but running out of gas costing him valuable points at the end.
Noah Gragson was fast through the first half of the race, but once again this season failed to put the finish together on the final tally. Contact in the late stages resulted in a flat tire, bringing him down pit road en route to placing 18th. That’s his second bad race in a row to start the playoffs after the incident with teammate Todd Gilliland coming to the checkered at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
The driver in the worst rut right now, though, has to be Stewart Frisen. A lot of people expected the Canadian to be the next one to break through with a victory. Instead, he may be one of the drivers eliminated when the dust settles at Talladega as he currently sits last of the eight playoff drivers. After struggling at CTMP with a mid-race spin, he spun three different times on Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway en route to finishing 17th.
All roads will now lead us to Talladega, where it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Can the drivers struggling turn it around? Will the usual suspects be up front? Will someone nobody expected fail to make the second round? What will happen with the big one looming? Unfortunately, thanks to a strung out schedule that nobody will ever understand, we have to wait 28 days to answer these questions.
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